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Monday, 6 April 2020

Reviews: Pure Reason Revolution, August Burns Red, Satyrus, Megatherium (Matt, Liam, Paul S & Paul H)

Pure Reason Revolution: Eupnea (InsideOut Music) [Matt Bladen]

Do you recognize the name? If you're at all invested in the UK prog scene then you'll recognize at least the name of the Berlin/London band who released three studio albums between 2006 and 2010, starting out with the new-prog of The Dark Third before adding more electronic sounds to Amor Vincit Omnia and Hammer And Anvil. Then founding member/guitar/vocal/keyboardist Jon Courtney moved onto his electronic project Bullet Height and then took an extended break. It was after a while he started to compose again and noticed that what he was writing was very much in the vein of early progressive rock bands, very much in the vein of Pure Reason Revolution. He contacted key PRR members vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Chloë Alper along with guitarist/producer Greg Jong to start to seriously write the album, knowing that time heals all wounds so long as the album itself was going to stick to the classic progressive rock sound.

So with a span of ten years and water under the bridge they return to reclaim their place amongst the upper echelon of modern prog bands. They have certainly got the classic meets modern sound nailed as Eupnea is full of Floydisms, you know, single note, echoed guitars, ambient synths and poetic vocalisations mixed with the raw, modernism of Steven Wilson or The Pineapple Thief. New Obsession is the clarion call, from those open notes to a throbbing main part Jon and Chloë's vocals working in glorious tandem again before it breaks into a solo section befitting of a Muse record. Then we get into the nitty gritty, no more short blasts of rock, Silent Genesis a slow build number that runs at 10 minutes long, it's a dreamscape, broken up with flashes of fuzzy guitars, which move into jazz laced synth coda right off of Division Bell turning into a big primal section just before the end driven by a massive guitar riff and huge drums from Geoff Dugmore, that made me gurn in appreciation as the dreamy sounds washed back over into that meaty riff again. 

Maelstrom is a lot more relaxed sounding, again with a huge drum sound but airy vocals and piano, the piercing highs of Chloë met with the lower reaches of Jon. Ghosts & Typhoons ramps up that quiet/loud dynamic switching between riffs that could easily be on mid-period Porcupine Tree and more dark ambience, as Beyond Our Bodies is a four minute lead up to the colossal title track 13 minutes of brilliant progressive music that shifts itself from a lullaby into anthemic rock and back again closing out the most accomplished record of PRR's career. Brilliance obviously can't be rushed after 10 years not a beat has been missed. A wonderful record. 10/10

August Burns Red: Guardians (Fearless Records) [Liam True]

About 8 years ago I had a friend tell me I should listen to a number of bands (Thy Art Is Murder, Between The Buried And Me being notable) and one of them was August Burns Red. I never took their advice and just shrugged them off thinking I wouldn’t like them. And this was around the time they released the Sleddin’ Hill record. Yeah, that one. But thankfully I peaked my interest when they released the spectacular Rescue & Restore. Fast forward to 2020, they’re a further three records into their 9 album and 17 year career. And they’ve dropped possibly the most aggressive Metalcore album since Upon A Burning Body’s The World Is My Enemy. Full of vile venom being spat by frontman Jake Luhrs, it’s hard to understand why this band aren’t bigger than they should be, with each record sounding as tight and bone-shattering as the last.

Being in the Metalcore genre it’s difficult to maintain a steady stream of solid record with out either become stale or ‘Selling out’ by going mainstream. ABR however have maintained that flow and have evolved into one of the genres most exciting bands with each release. And Guardians is not them slowing down. In fact it’s them carrying their momentum over from their previous work and making it sound bigger and more in your face. First single Defender shows that they’re not running out of riffs anytime soon, while the whole record encompasses their tremendous song writing ability and instrumental skills. While some may not be big into this band, there’s never a bad time to jump into their record cycles and try and love them. If anything this album will make you an instant fan, and possibly make your smile turn into a twisted gurn from the disgusting breakdowns they produce on this monumental album. They’ve not only proved they’re a force to be reckoned with within the industry. But they’ve also proved that you can keep the same music fresh, while being destructive and experimental. 10/10

Satyrus: Rites (Self Released) [Paul Scoble]

Satyrus are a Sicily based four piece. The band made up of Freddy Fish on Bass, Frankie Pizzimenti on Guitar, Gianni Passafivme on Vocals and Morg on Drums. Satyrus have been making music together since 2016, Rites is the band's first album. There is an elephant in the room with this album so let’s deal with it strait away. Satyrus sound an awful lot like Electric Wizard, particularly Dopethrone era Electric Wizard. There are elements of other bands, unsurprisingly Black Sabbath are clearly an influence, but Electric Wizard runs through every track on this album. I’d like to make it clear at this point that that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there are plenty of other bands that have borrowed heavily from E.W, some are good, some aren’t. So are Satyrus good at being heavily influenced by Electric Wizard?

Well, yes they are. The five long tracks that make up this album are extremely good, the style might be all about E.W, but Satyrus’s take on that style of huge Doom is very good. The riffs are huge, swaggering behemoths that flatten anything in their path. This album also features some fantastic bass lines, unlike a lot of huge doom albums where the bass lines are lost in the fuzz, Freddy Fish does a very good job of writing bass lines that do not just follow what the guitar is doing, and so adds an extra dimension to this album. The bass work on this album also reminded me of how important Geezer Butler’s playing was for Black Sabbath’s sound, Geezer being another bass player who did not just follow the guitar. The bass guitar on opener Black Satyrus and the track Shovel is particularly good. Shovel also features a fantastic bluesy solo, which is another standout thing about this album, there are lots of very good solos. Black Satyrus features a solo with lashings of Wah-Wah that is really something special.

Although this album is very heavily influenced by E.W. there is a big dollop of Black Sabbath in the tempo’s on display. Stigma has a pacing that is very similar to Children Of The Grave, there are also some slower paced riffs where the pacing is very reminiscent to The Wizard or Electric Funeral. The album does have that satanic/ritualistic feel that is very Electric Wizard, the vocals (which are clean and very good) feel wrapped up in religious fervour, like a Doomy high priest or cult leader. There are also several samples of people chanting and layered vocals which help to give this kind of atmosphere.

Rites is a great album, ok they do sound a lot like a particular band, but so do a lot of other bands Electric Wizard have influenced huge numbers of bands, Black Sabbath have influenced tens of thousands of bands, so I don’t think it’s really a criticism, more a description. Rites is one of the best albums in this style, in fact I’d even put it above some (but not all) Electric Wizard albums. It’s huge, swaggering, piece of ritualistic Doom, that will have your head nodding and will put a huge smile on your face. Great Stuff! 8/10

Megatherium: God (Argonauta Records) [Paul Hutchings]

This is the sophomore release from the sludge and doom merchants of Verona. Having sensibly trimmed some of the fat from debut release Superbeast, this is a more streamlined and technically tighter release. The yawning chasm of the opening track Generate gives way to huge, devastatingly heavy riffs, the sense of impending heaviness born out within minutes as echoing drums slowly edge their way into the heaving cauldron of sound. This leads into The One, a crushingly heavy pounding song that in turn leads to the tumultuous piledriver The Holy, slow, punishing slabs of sludgy doom interspersed with fiery explosive shards of lead guitar. Having flattened all in their way, The Truth follows, gargantuan riffs cleverly supported by some deft keyboards which add shafts of light amidst the maelstrom.

The centrepiece of the album is The Eye, a colossal ten-minute monster that totally befits a band named after a huge prehistoric ground dwelling sloth. Blistering riffage and rhythms, clean raw vocals, and a sonic distribution that truly is that of the impending apocalypse. The dark feel permeates the record, the clever blend of sludge and doom, scorching low-tuned guitar riffs, bone crushing bass and grooves all combining and the final mammoth song The Strength levels anything that escaped the earlier battery. Resemblance with countrymen Uffomammut wouldn’t be unkind, the earthy, soil through the fingers style maintained throughout. The progress is substantial. This is an album that deserves attention. 7/10

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